July 17, 2013
A Surprised Winner: Mike McGoldrick
By Amy Duchene

“Podium was in my vision. I always try to visualize where I will end up, but being on top of the podium was never in the plan. I had never pictured actually winning the region, so it was a huge surprise.”  

With only three weeks left to prepare, the South Central’s champion newcomer, Mike McGoldrick, is putting the final touches on his game before heading to California to vie for the title of Fittest on Earth.

With previous competition experience only in the Central East Region, McGoldrick surprised everyone in the South Central competition, including himself, when the weekend was wrapped and he stood atop the podium.

After a three-day, back-and-forth battle for first place with 2011 Regional winner Aja Barto and former NFL player Paul Smith, McGoldrick fought for every inch on his competition in order to clinch the top spot.

“I was definitely surprised I won,” McGoldrick says. “Podium was in my vision. I always try to visualize where I will end up, but being on top of the podium was never in the plan. I had never pictured actually winning the region, so it was a huge surprise.”  

Despite only finishing first in Event 1 of the competition, McGoldrick’s ability to stay within the top of the pack in every event paid off. Continuously pushing himself to the limit, however, also had a drawback. McGoldrick suffered what he thought was a pulled groin during Event 6. He would later find out he had a level 2 muscle tear.

“At that point, going into Event 7, I knew I was in first place, but I didn’t know the point spread. I was still extremely nervous about what had happened to my leg,” McGoldrick admits. “I thought I had just pulled my groin and I could feel that it was swollen, but I was so close to the end. There was only a five-minute workout left and I was like an animal backed into the corner. You would have to kill me to keep from trying at that point. I knew I was close, all the hard work was already done, so I had to go for it.”

He later finished Event 7, the rope climb/squat clean, in 4:47 — good enough for third place in the event and first overall.

While excited for his victory, McGoldrick knew his injury needed medical attention. That’s when he found Dr. Brad Cole, of Cole Pain Therapy Group, in Bartlett, Tenn. The injury was worse than expected, but McGoldrick and Cole were both determined to get him through it and into his summer training schedule for the Games. 

While his competition went back to training, McGoldrick had to refocus and apply his unrelenting attitude toward recovery.

“I saw Dr. Cole almost every day for three weeks straight. We iced and stemmed it, we did A.R.T., stretched and everything else we could to make it heal it as fast as possible,” he says. “I was really fortunate because he understood the urgency and, that for me, rest wasn’t a huge option. I took those weeks off, but now I feel great and I’m back 100 percent and ready for the Games.” 

For the last year, McGoldrick has trained with James FitzGerald, and in their regimen for the months leading up to the Games, McGoldrick is back to pushing his limits and preparing for the unknown.

“Now that I have completely recovered, the volume has picked up very quickly. For Regionals you know there will be no long runs, swimming or biking. So throughout the year, my training was more concentrated on making me a well-rounded athlete for met-cons,” he explains. “I’m naturally powerful and explosive, so we started from scratch to improve my long workouts, gymnastics and that kind of thing. But now that we’re preparing for the Games, training is so much more fun. Now, I’m swimming twice a week, biking three times a week and running at least four times a week, all in different environments. Anything that we can come up with to put an extra edge on the workouts, we will do it. We’ll throw in extra standards of movements that you don’t see during the Open or Regionals, so it’s a lot of fun.”

McGoldrick says he’s most excited about pushing his limits at the big show.

“I’m most excited about being in a competition that has no limitations on what can be thrown at us. CrossFit Headquarters has all the resources to find the fittest man and woman in the world. Regionals are fun, but they can’t give you everything that they are able to. At the CrossFit Games, though, they can really do anything and that fires me up. I love to swim, run, bike and grind. I’m ready."